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Thursday, January 14, 2010

National Fast Day

Politics make me sick.  Since there are bloggers who say what I would say, perhaps even better than I would say it, I allow myself the luxury of blogging about other fun topics, like living with cancer.

In general, if you want to know what I think about politics in Israel, read The Muqata, Treppenwitz, or Joe Settler.  They say what needs to be said.

But, every once in a while, I still need to say what I need to say, because nobody else seems to be saying it.

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi (Rishon LeTzion), Shlomo Amar, has declared today to be a public fast day, basically, to pray for rain. 

Today's Chief Rabbis are no longer powerful spiritual leaders, who serve as our national moral compass. They are government appointed lackeys, who do not criticize or speak out against the government, even in cases of religious prejudice. 

But they will declare a public fast day to pray for rain.

The thing is, as religious leaders, they have an obligation to be our nation's spiritual guides, especially when our nation has lost its way.

Every day, at least twice a day, religious Jews repeat the formula that God gave us, in the second paragraph of the sh'ma (Deuteronomy 11:13-21):

Option A:  If we listen, and do the right thing, God will provide the right amount of rain for our land (Israel), and we will reap our harvests of grain, and wine, and oil. And, basically, everything will be good.

Option B:  BUT, if we don't listen, and we stray from the path, then God will close the heavens and there will be no rain, and the land will not produce, and we will lose the land that God gave us.

Now, let us take an honest look at what is going on in our country:

1. Jews are prohibited from building homes (the Israeli government has imposed a building freeze)

2. Jews are being expelled from their homes, and their homes are being destroyed (see above)

3. Arab terrorists have free access to Israeli roads (resulting, for example, in yesterday's stoning on highway 443, next to Beit Sira, just outside of Modi'in, and today's stoning that injured a mother and her one-year-old baby).

4.  Checkpoints that were set up to prevent terrorists from entering populated Jewish areas, have been removed, as a "goodwill gesture" to terrorists (resulting, for example, in the drive-by shooting and murder of Meir Chai two weeks ago).

We might come to the conclusion that rather than a national fast day, what we need is a different government and different national priorities.

Maybe the Rabbis should organize something more effective, that will result in actual changes in Israel, which might just bring us closer to fulfilling our side of the formula, which, if we do it right, will result in God fulfilling His part.

In Zechariah, Chapters 7-8, God is asked if we should continue to fast (on days like Tish'a B'Av and Tzom Gedaliah), after our return from exile.  God mocks the question, reproving the people for missing the point:  God never commanded the people to fast.  Rather, the people instituted the fast days after ignoring God's message, and losing Jerusalem.  God did not ask for fast days;  rather, God asked the people to be just, compassionate, and merciful.  God wanted people to speak the truth, and to refrain from corruption and dishonesty.

The message in Zechariah is clear:  What we do is what matters to God, not whether we eat or fast.

If we fast for 100 days, while we destroy Jewish homes with our own hands and allow our fellow Jews to be stoned, shot at, injured, and killed, then we do not deserve rain.

What do you think?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


arnie draiman said...

well said, well written. and...check my favorite source on this: isaiah 58:3-7 (which we read on YOM KIPPUR!!!!!) quoted here:

Why have we fasted, and You don't see? Why have we afflicted our soul, and You don't seem to know?'--Behold, in the day of your fast you pursue your business, and exact all your labors.

Behold, you fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; you fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high.

Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

Is it not to give your bread to hungry people, and that you bring in to your house poor people that are cast out? when you see a person without clothes, do you cover him, and that you hide not your own self from your own flesh?

in other words...do mitzvahs and tzedakah, tikkun olam and hesed - it goes a lot farther than fasting!

arnie draiman

Batya said...

Yes, what's the point of fasting for rain when G-d has been very clear about the drought being a product of evil politics against Jews?
Tizki l'mitvot and refuah shleimah!

Eliyahu S. said...

Right on, RivkA!